Greetings - We've been an Airbnb Hosts since 2012 and maintain Superhost status contuously since 2014. We host approximately 250 completed trips per year with 5 rentals. 4 short term rentals and 1 long term rental all of which are listed on Airbnb.
If you are renting entire homes there are some steps you can take to improve the quality of your guests, reduce issues and the increase the safety of your property and guests.
We tried it and there are some issues that caused us to turn that feature off.
1. We recommend some communication with potential guests prior to accepting a reservation. You need to get a feel for who the guest is and why they are visiting your city. If there is more than one guest who are they and what are thier names?
2. If they are new to Airbnb, the date they joined will be displayed and they will not have any reviews. A large number of our guests are new to Airbnb. Ask them if they are new and if they have reviewed all the details on the listing. Let them know that reviews help a host decide whether to accept a reservation. You can draft a saved message for this to save time.
3. If you do not allow pets or are selective of the pets you do accept Instant Book does not address these issues. For instance, if you do not allow pets (some people don't read the details) and someone with a pet books on Instant Book you have a problem. Canceling the reservation is problematic in that case.
1. We use Schlage Touchpad Connect locks controlled with a z-wave controller. By using these locks we can program a unique code for each guest. We use the last 4 digits of the guests phone number so they can easily remember it. We also keep the keys for each unit in a lock box in case the lock malfunctions or there is some other problem. Rarely have we needed guests use the keys but they are there just in case. Z-Wave is an RF signal that can be extended at full strength and is more reliable than WiFi locks.
2. You can progam the locks to active the unique code on a particular day and time for check-in so that there are no surprise early check-ins. This is particularly important if you have back-to-back reservations so that your cleaning people can schedule for cleaning. If an early check-in is requested you can either approve it or decline it based on the cleaning schedule. You can also program the lock to deactivate the code upon check-out so guests cannot check out later than expected without approval or reenter after checkout.
3. The software allows you to monitor door access activity so you can see when a person checked in and the activity during the stay. Also, you can monitor the status of each lock such as battery level and whether the door is locked or unlocked.
4. If you have repair, cleaning, or maintenance personnel needing access you can give them a unique code for entry. If they are charging by the hour you can see when they arrive and when they leave to keep them honest.
1. We use the NetGear Arlo Wireless cameras on the exterior of our rentals. We have one camera pointed at the off street parking area to monitor vehicles and the people exiting them. We allow one vehicle per bedroom so we can monitor that. Only guests are allowed to use the off street parking spaces so if an unauthorized vehicle is parked on the property we can investigate an if necessary have it removed or towed.
2. We have another camera pointed at each entrance so we can see who and how many people are entering. If the reservation is for 2 guests and 3 people enter with luggage we can address that quickly.
3. In our situation we do not allow recreational equipment (bikes, skis, kayaks, golf clubs, etc.) inside our places to reduce the possibility of accidental damage. We have a locked storgae shed for those things. If someone loads in their bikes because the failed to read the house rules we can instruct them to remove them store them in the secure storage shed, outside or on, or in their vehicle/s.
NOTE: If you do choose to use video cameras be sure to mention that in your listing. If people know there are video cameras you can avoid problem guests and protect not only you property but your guests as well.
They key to having great host experiences and avoiding problems is communication and information. Before, during and after the stay.
Thanks for reading this and I hope it helps. Give it a thumbs up if you find this helpful.
Cheers - Stan
Thanks for such a a great post. I use the resortlock RL2000 electronic lock (algorythmic so I don't have worry about stable wifi). I don't have cameras but am looking at Minut Point cameraless monitoring noise, humidity, smoke, etc.
I think a wifi thermostat is essential and I also use door/window sensors to ensure they are not left open and I'm alerted I there is activity when I'm not there and I don't expect guests.
Hi Andrew - Thanks for the comments.
Although I was focusing on how to operate safely and securely, your comments of Smart WiFi Thermostats is excellent. We use the Ecobee thermostats for our ductless heat pumps. There are several diffent types available. Anyone interested in adding WiFi thermostats needs to check compatibility with thier existing heating cooling system first.
The ability to monitor the heating and cooling remotely is a great way to keep the indoors comfortable for guests upon arrival and to also control the system remotely at any time. The combination of ductless heat pumps and the WiFi thermostats provides complete remote control of the indoor environment and reduces heating/cooling costs. Guests can chose thier comfort level during thier stay and we can turn the heat or a/c down when the rentals are not occupied. Another convenient and money saving best practice for hosts and guests.
I like the idea of sensors for the windows. Will have to look into that.
Thanks - Stan
I like your response to their intense one including having cameras which is not necessary where I live, small safe coastal town, crime is rare, and we feel safe. I know guests would surely feel self conscious if they knew, and you would have to let them know for sure, that they were on a live camera! That is totally wrong to me, guessing live in big city, or just film entrance. Different than mine.
I do agree to talk and connect through their choice of communicating. This was suggested by Airbnb in the very beginning, just a year ago, for us. If you feel that they have for ex. extra adults, so it's not 4 people meaning a couple with 2 children, be sure they understand one will be sleeping on a pull-out trundle bed though it is a new mattress, it will be on the floor on wheels. We have done this before, and the people were fine with it! Some may not be, so best to explain, brilliant husband idea. Also the ETA idea, is after they choose way to communicate, respect their privacy, I keep no chatter going only explain that we need please an ETA about 90 minutes before they arrive. Everyone has respected this, loved our town and Airbnb, and had no worries as each guest knows where and how we do business after we book them, and never has someone cancelled except during Hurricane Matthew, which effected our state badly and we had a mutual agreement to refund their money and actually got a beautiful thank you note from them.
It's all about communicating, representing where and what your place is like honestly with photos of every room, outdoors, and surrounds. If someone has a negative remark, it is their problem and i can't change their mind after the fact. It is bad business to ask someone to rate you! Airbnb says no no to that, too, not that you do it, but I have read hosts' comments other places here that say that they have bartered and asked for a higher rating. That is petty and illegal and makes the rest of the honest hosts, like us, look bad! Thanks for your ideas!
I felt that way about cameras- too invasive and a bit creepy. I'm rethinking it now after a dog was snuck into the house and did damage that is not covered by AirBnB. I didn't want to have a "deposit" either, but I do now and made it clear its for the presence of a pet or evidence of smoking. It's so sad- why can't people just respect the house rules? As Debbie and Jim point out, many of them don't even read them.
In our beginning we allowed one of the two bungalows to permit pets. Some of the request I received throughout the year were interesting.
A.) Would you allow up to 3 large dogs? (The bungalow is only 655 sq. ft. and it would be wrong of us to permit that many pets in a unit that size, so the answer was, no.
B.) I promise to kennel crate the dog when we are away for the evening so it won't get up on the furniture. (That was a flatout lie from the guests.)
C. I assure you my dog is very well house broken. ( Turned out not to be the case. The dog stressed out being in unfamiliar surroundings.)
We even took it to the point of providing guests with an emergency pet clean up kit should a mishap need attention and pointed it out on there arrival. A few mishaps happened and the kit never got used. One guest went as far to cover up a rug stain by spinning the area rug around and then placing the coffee table over the stain to conceal it.
After our first year of trying this we reviewed the number of pet reservations we took in for the year in that bungalow. It was less than 4% so we opted to not allow anymore pets in the future.
We have installed cameras on the property, but mainly because we get some distruction caused by animals in the area. Mainly deer and javalinas. We have it posted on the main drive as you enter, but should a guest inquire if we have cameras on or in there bungalows? No, we don't. It's just mainly to cover the property as a whole and it also covers the parking areas. Guests seem to be okay with this.
A friend of mine who also is a host informs guests pre-arrival that one of the conditions of bringing a pet is they must sign a damage -- pick up after dog waiver upon arrival and also pay an additional non-refundable pet cleaning deposit. The additional cleaning deposit is based on length of stay. If a guests complains about the additional expense he is quick to point out that boarding the pet in a kennel would cost consideribly more.
In truth the downside to anything you offer, do or have restrictions on and you clearly post all this information on your listing page.......... Guests don't read anymore. They do a quick scan if that. So it is not a surprise (anymore) when a guests arrives only to act surprised because they claim they were not aware of such. (Guests always play the victim on these matters.)
Once we receive confirmation from any booking service site we also email directly to the upcoming guest confirming their stay along with some other information they may enjoy or like to know in advance. Info such as where to park. Access to the rental. If arriving late please inform us so we know to be here to get you settled in and so on. Even by doing this we still learn that many guest never take the time out to open and/or read this information.
Again.... The bottom line is Guests Don't Read Anymore. It's the vein in our exsistance these days. Sad, but true. (I've even had other host stay with us who also failed in reading the information posted on the site or in the email we sent out.)
Hi Matthew - "Guests don't read anymore". So true for the most part. I think a reminder to anyone who makes a reservation that they are agreeing to the house rules (the rental contract) when they make the reservation. We stress to all guests in a follow-up communication to make sure they have reviewed the listing details and the house rules since they are agreeing to all of it.
Repetition is the only chance we have to get through to some guests.
Great post. Totally agree with all your points, especially mounting external security cams on entrances and disclosing in your listing. Best thing for your peace of mind.
As for your comments on instant book reguarding pets. My understanding is that if your pet policy is clearly written, you charge a damage deposit and you have photographic proof of violation, the case manager should uphold your claim to the resolution center. Question. Am I misguided about this?
We allow pets and when I was researching this option I could not find anybody giving more details or policy. Airbnb does not have pet damage option which would be nice.
Also, instant booking can be made and the guest may not mention that they will bring a pet becuse the listing states that its Ok. I had a instat booking guest that told us he will bring his pet and I assume it was a dog but the day they left I found out that it was a cat. (my mistake not to ask more).
So, if anybody has a good pet policy I would love to see it.
Hi Pia - Regarding our pets policy, this is what we have in our listing. We have learned through experience you have to be a bit picky with pets if you want to keep your place nice.
DOGS: We sometimes allow one small to medium sized dog. All dogs are subject to prior approval. Approval depends on the size, breed, age and disposition of your dog so please include that information when you make a reservation request. Dogs are subject to the House Rules.
This is also one of the reasons why we don't use Instant Book. We want to be able to decline a reservation if we are not comfortable with a pet. We sometimes get a reservation request where the guest has two dogs and we don't allow 2. Only one and that's with approval. We have solid bookings so this doesn't seem to effect the number of bookings we get. We also will decline a reservation if a guest is going to stay for more than a few days with a pet. Especially heavy shedders. The security deposit covers any accidents or damage that might be caused by a pet.
We have on very rare occasions allowed cats. Very rarely. The few times we have there were no problems.
Hope that helps.
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Insist your guests has and travels with a pet rider insurance policy. Inform the guests you will need a copy of this policy for the reservation to be accepted. Guest who travel with pets are aware of this rider and it is affordable on their end to obtain one. If the pet causes any damage then you can go through there insurance company for damages.
Hi Matthew - Great idea if you accept pets as a rule. We do not accept pets as a rule. We have 5 rentals and we only accept pets in one of them but that is after we've vetted the guest and pet and give approval. We generally only accept one small to medium sized dog (40-50lbs max). We ask guests to bring thier doggie bed and a kennel if they have one but we do supply blankets, towels and poop bags. Our house rules for dogs is pretty strict including staying off furniture, no leaving the pet inside unattended for any length of time and no yappy dogs that bark at everything. If there is an accident (which is very rare) we make a claim on the security deposit. We also charge extra per night for dogs. We probably lose a certain number of bookings from guests who travel with thier dogs but we like to keep our places clean and free of pet dander, fur and odors. So we're pretty picky.
Thanks for the suggestion!
Truth is we have been back and forth over having or not having pets. But since we offer several bungalows we elected to devote one of them as pet friendly. Research shows we were missing out on a large percentage of travelers who travel with pets these days. We want to capture this revenue and besides.... I have a small dog and so do my tenants over in our vintage trailer section of the compound. It would be a negitive message if we didn't allow some adjustment in our selection by not allowing pets.
Thus far we have been lucky. I provide emergency spot remover cleaners as part of our package. We have a neighboring dog groomer who is available for nail clippings, grooming and even short term kennel housing if the guest wishes to be away for a couple days and wanting to leave the dog behind. Bisbee, AZ is a very dog friendly town.
Stan, I expect it's very cold up where you are at now. We've been averaging in the 60-70's. Stay warm and thank you for your response. ----Matthew
Hi, we have 2 dogs, and a cat, all very friendly but we do not allow pets. I can not do instant booking due to our situation anyway, traveling, etc., but that would be a problem to find out later that they did not warn you!
I have had to respond to folks wanting to bring their pets, even though we clearly state on our Airbnb description we just cannot do it, and they are usually totally understanding, and book us anyway! They simply wanted to see if we made exceptions.
It is part of being who you are in your role as a host. Everyone is different. I garden away from their entrance and sight, though if we meet as they come and go I always ask if everything is fine, and to let us know as we do in the beginining if they need anything. I have had THE nicest people imagaineable, and am grateful!
IF Airbnb doesn't cover pet damage and you let them book, I can see why they wouldn't, and also if you never were home to view that they did have an animal, it seems not to be your fault. I would try to litigate for a refund on part of the deposit, let Airbnb do it.